So many of the creative and talented women friends I gained through this blog, doing shows, making videos and a film, are now gone. Like in, they left NYC. In most cases priced out, by the cost of housing.
I asked a few of them if they would like to write about it here.
Some do, and I will be posting their words. Some will post their name, others want to do it anonymously, here's the second in a series...
Sarah, a songwriter, pianists and mom...
Pete, It’s been 19 months since I lived in New York City. I lived there for eight years. It would have been a decade this month, which means that if I’d never left I would be, officially, a real New Yorker soon. Instead, I became the person people roll their eyes at. I moved to Vancouver, Washington, with my baby and my boyfriend. Now Brooklyn becomes this weird blip, the place I spent my 20s. Leaving felt like getting out of a bad marriage, like I was “choosing happiness.” Like many New Yorker's, I spent years fantasizing about other lives, and months on different Zip Codes in real-estate apps. We had the Vermont phase, the upstate New York phase, the looking into visas in Berlin phase. What would it be like, to be an adult in not–New York?
My music career? I was writing songs hoping they would be 'placed' and playing weddings and gigs for the corporations I disliked for making every business a cut throat campaign. I made my rent and then a bit more doing that. That's not a music life, it's a struggling existence. One of the last live gigs I had was packed, my tip jar paid me $83, a net loss of $200 for me, $200 was one ninth of my rent.
As it turns out, living elsewhere is exceedingly comfortable. Years spent in New York made it seem like a bad thing to choose ease. A weakness, a personality flaw. After all, if an easy life were something I was after, why had I spent so much goddamned time in a railroad apartment near the BQE? Had I internalized the values of the people around me, assimilated so much I’d forgotten what I actually cared about?
Living in New York was never a dream of mine like it is for some people. New York made realizing so many of my dreams possible: writing, love, and a child. Maybe once I got everything I wanted out of the city I was ready to leave. Maybe I made my contacts, got my contracts, memorized the subway lines, and then I was done.
For more than a year I didn’t miss it at all. When images of the city flashed in my mind, it was like a montage of car exhaust, putrefying garbage, and hauling my ass up subway steps at the end of a long day. The word that came to mind was misery. And then it shifted. It was almost like my brain missed using all my particular to New York knowledge. I fantasized about walking certain pathways across town. I got butterflies thinking about that section of Rivington that doesn’t quite connect when you cross Bowery, or sliding into a table at a crowded coffee shop, right as it empties.So I went to New York by myself, for four days.
I landed in JFK, giddy to be in an airport that felt like a spaceship, I ran off to find the subway, my subway.
“I don’t know how you do it,” I said to my friends at dinner that night — my old, dear friends who make me laugh like no other. What I mean to say is Why. But there was a bite to my comment, a bitterness. When I saw other women with babies strapped to their chest in carriers I got a flash of anger, like, No, I have a baby, or What are you trying to prove? It took me a few days to realize that my friends and these women were doing what I couldn’t, or wouldn’t — do. They were hacking it in New York.
I woke up the next morning at 6 a.m. — windows open, no air-conditioning, on an air mattress in the office of my dear friend’s Bushwick apartment — to the sounds of construction. It was that comically loud New York sound where someone is basically dropping a ton of cement onto something really clangy. The kind that makes you jump and laugh and scream.
I can’t do it anymore. I’ve gone soft. What that means is that I’ll be forever living in not–New York, in a second-rate place with an in-unit washer and dryer. And that’s the cost — knowing that there will always be a city that has everything but that I can no longer take. There will always be a city to contend with, to compare to. It’s incredibly annoying, but hey, that’s New York....Sarah.
see part 1 HERE! ... Follow me: Pete Carma
see part 1 HERE! ... Follow me: Pete Carma